Hezicos Tarot
Created and self-published By Mary Griffin

Hezicos Tarot Box While several artistic-minded American tarotists have created and produced their own tarot decks, privately produced tarots are rare in Great Britain. A few I remember are `Frown Strong Tarot' and `Thelemic Tarot' both from 1977, and a series of privately manufactured and very limited edition handcrafted decks by the artist Peter Ra. Even professionally manufactured tarot decks are rare in Great Britain (except the Waite-Smith Tarot, of course). Better known are the endless numbers of tarot packs, taking their themes from mythology and folklore, published by Aquarian Press and other commercial publishers around 1990; all of them needing big books to explain what their subjects have to do with the concept of tarot. These can hardly be called `genuine tarot decks'.

11 - Justice Now we have, for the first time, a full 78 card tarot deck, the Hezicos Tarot, created and published by the British artist Mary Griffin. The deck, printed in Hong Kong, fits precisely well into its very sturdy two-part lidded box which, besides the borderless 78 cards plus a title card, also holds a little green book. The closed box looks like a small gift package, nicely wrapped in a decorated shiny paper and with a knotted string around it. From an apparent tear in the paper at the lower right corner a strange creature is stepping out, holding a book in his right hand. In the upper left corner, a winged creature is balancing on the string. That a great part of Mary Griffin's artwork are trompe l'oeil paintings and decorations is obvious. The little green book, the same size as the cards, has 52 pages. All cards are illustrated with thumbnails in colour and a few lines of description and meaning is given for each. For my part most interesting are a couple of pages, where the artist describes the many phases the primary sketches had to go through to reach the finished image. 10 of Cups

Mary Griffin has created a tarot universe of fairies and fantasy characters, who have enchanted and transformed Pamela Colman Smith's tarot realm in an attempt to take it over. The artist says in her introduction `The Hezicos Tarot is not a Medieval, Celtic or Wicca deck, it has its own unique style. I have kept a Rider-Waite theme running through the cards thus enabling beginners to learn with ease'. I would, admittedly, have preferred if the artist had allowed the characters on her number cards to act out their own activities instead of repeating those Pamela Colman Smith created one hundred years ago. If we talk about real beginners, they do not have any preconceived opinion about what a certain tarot card necessarily shall depict. Anyway, with this statement the artist also indicates that this is a tarot deck destined for `tarot readings'; there is no need to look for any esoteric symbolism.

King of Swords For the most, it is the major or trump series, which attracts immediate attention the first time I look at a tarot deck. Looking through Griffin's deck it was, however, the courts that immediately struck me as deviating from all other cards, being close-up portraits of various people of undefined ethnicity. Further examination reveals that several, but not all majors, have similar undefined ethnic traits. The questions arose: who are those stern courts, who reigns the realm of Hezicos? What does `Hezicos' actually mean? Sounds somehow Greek to me. The little green book does not give any clues as to what the word means and the web was not helpful either. I had to ask the artist herself, who told that as a child she used to play with her brother and sister in the garden at a secret place which she named Hezicos.

The Hezicos Tarot is a motley coloured picture book for children and the young at heart. We are in a land of fey and fairies, spirits, dwarfs and mysteries. The images are full of details. Tiny figures here and there, all sorts of animals, plants, fruits, stones and crystals. Looking closely at, for example, the wands (known as rods in this deck), it can be seen that they have faces, some even have arms and hands. The four number series can be distinguished from another solely by the different caps the characters wear.

I am not an expert on fairies and fantasy realms, on the contrary; my world is a lot more concrete. I have, however, seen tarot decks based upon fantasy themes by the dozen, most of them drawn by commissioned illustrators with no particular affection for the subject. The Hezicos tarot is a work of love by a competent artist within her arena. I am not in doubt either, that it can be a successful seller in these days where more and more people, with the help of books, comic strips, film and tarot decks, retract from reality to explore more agreeable and exciting worlds, than the one they actually live in.

9 of Coins 6 - The Lovers

Hezicos tarot can be bought directly from the artist at www.hezicos.com , where all the cards can be seen as well as a selection of the artists trompe l'oeil paintings.

Review also published in "The Playing Card",
Vol. 38 #23 (January-March 2010)
K. Frank Jensen 2010